Obscura Day is a celebration of unusual places like no other. Only on Obscura Day will you have the opportunity to do and see so many amazing and odd things, imbibe in complimentary Hendrick’s Gin cocktails, in the company of like minded curious people. What other event line up includes cocktail parties at a museum of anatomical specimens, a live demonstration of Victorian steam power, and an urban foraging expedition in New York’s Central Park?

Obscura Day 2011 Preview from Atlas Obscura on Vimeo.


Anatomical Collections & Pathological Wonders 


The museum will be specially opening its doors to the Atlas Obscura community for a private viewing of the Mutters incomparable collection of curious medical anomalies and human anatomy, and a chance to take a class taught by the fantastic Marcy Engleman exploring body modifications from around the world from foot binding to body piercing, from corsets to neck coils. Complimentary Hendrick’s Gin drinks and appetizers will be served during the class and we will have a chance to wander the museum and explore a wondrous selection of specimens displayed in the same Victorian cabinets that the museum opened with in 1858. 
In honor of Obscura Day, the Museum’s curator will present 3D stereoscopic photos, chromolithographs, and a magic lantern show depicting skin diseases in gorgeous, gruesome detail. Then, visitors can check out an exhibition of actual human bodies juxtaposes preserved whole-body and organ specimens with artifacts, artwork, and archival materials from the Museum’s permanent collection to highlight the complexity and fragility of human anatomy.

For Obscura Day the museum will present a selection of amazing rare books from the collections, dating from the time of Christopher Columbus to the 20th century, share a sampling of strange and wonderful objects from the Dittrick artifact collections, and selections from the internationally famous collection of dissection room portraits (depicting med students with their cadavers, and as presented in the Dittrick’s book Dissection) and the beautiful, if disturbing Corlett collection of dermatology images, documenting dread diseases from smallpox to syphilis.

Mechanical Marvels

Kinetic Steam Works will be firing up their Victorian-era contraptions and talking about what makes steam power work, followed by a cocktail mixer with complimentary cocktails provided by Hendrick’s Gin

Mid-Century Science at the Niagara Science Museum - Niagara Falls, NY

Come out to the Niagara Science Museum for an afternoon of historical experiments conducted with restored antique scientific equipment. Among many other rooms and objects, the museum contains a recreated 1930s medical office, a galvanometer collection, a collection of antique optical instruments, microscopes and radios, and - most intriguing of all - a high-voltage laboratory. Amazingly, almost everything in the museum has been restored to working order so that they can demonstrate how each item works.

Unusual Opportunities


For decades Steve Erenberg (aka Radio Guy), has searched for extraordinary mechanical, electronic, musical and industrial items. On Obscura Day Erenberg will be opening his incredible private collection of Industrial masks and helmets, anatomical models, countless bizarre, scientific contraptions, electrostatic devices to a small tour just for us.

Urban Foraging with “Wildman” Steve Brill - New York, NY

Hundreds of overlooked edible and medicinal wild herbs, shoots, greens, flowers, roots, and mushrooms grow wild in natural areas throughout our region. Under expert supervision, they’re easy to learn, recognize, gather ecologically, and use for food and home remedies, and on Obscura Day “Wildman” Steve Brill will be showing us how.
Located in the historic Corktown neighborhood, the Imagination Station is developing a creative campus housed ona large property including two blighted hosues. On Obscura Day, we’ll enjoy complimentary Hendrick’s cocktails in teh digital media lab and digital resigency living space (Righty) while time lapse photography captures Michigan Central Depot and Roosevelt Park - an interesting perspective to an iconic image on the verge of a new era. The other building (Lefty) features “Salvaged Landscape,” an architecture art form arson piece by Cate Newell. Music, gin and homemade tonic water will round out an eventing that will illuminate Detroit’s cultural landscape.  

Learn Something New


Join Matt Novak of the fantastic PaleoFuture blog for an exploration of the origins of the internet. Stand in the very spot that the first modem sent the first message ever, and see photos and documents from those first days of the Internet that have been lost to obscurity for decades.

Expedition to the Blaenavon Ironworks - Blaenaven, Wales

Tour the best preserved blast furnace complex in the world. It was at Blaenavon, during the 1870s, that Percy Carlyle Gilchrist and Sidney Gilchrist Thomas discovered a revolutionary method to produce steel, transforming the steel industries of Europe and America.

Vancouver Police Museum Tours - Vancouver, Canada

The Vancouver Police Museum will be putting on a special 90-minute tour of the police museum building (the city’s fomer morgue), looking at the incredible history of a space that was Vancouver’s city morgue from 1932 to 1980. During that period, almost 15,000 autopsies were performed in this space, covering almost every major homicide and accident in the city during that period. 

Far Flung Adventures 

Obscura Day in Antarctica - Ross Island, Antarctica

2011 marks to hundred year anniversary of the heroic (and tragic) Amundsen and Scott race to the South Pole. In celebration of that momentous accomplishment, friends of Atlas Obscura at McMurdo Station in Antarctica will be hosting an exploration-themed Obscura Day.

Expedition through Haridwar - Hardiwar, India

Regarded as one of the holiest places in the Hindu religion, and an ancient city, on Obscura Day we will be touring some of the cities most fascinating temples and sites! Join Atlas Obscura Team Member Madi in this ancient and holy city to explore its wonders.

Manila Moonlight Row - Manila, Philippines

For Obscura Day the Manila Boat Club, the Philippine’s oldest sports club, will host a moonlight row up the Pasig River. Experience travelling through one of the busiest and noisiest cities in the world yet hear only the sounds of lapping water, children laughing on the banks nearby, and the occasional evening stroller throwing you their hello’s. The views of Manila and Makati lit up at night will add to the serenity. Along the way the old cigar factory, the race track, and hidden parks will open themselves up to you – as these views and others, normally blocked by walls and buildings, will become unencumbered along the river banks.

Located in Norland, the Saltstarumen Sound is the strongest tidal current in the world. Over 400 million metric tons of seawater slam through a three kilometer long and 150 meter wide strait at 73km/hour. And this happens every six hours! Large whirlpools form when the current is ats its most powerful. This is also one of the spots where very large fish can be caught. Saithe, cod, wolf-fish, rose-fish, coafish and halibut are to be had.


Hope to see you there!

Poster design by Oliver Munday is available for purchase at the Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company